IT has been a long, hard week for the Scotland World Cup squad. Under normal circumstances, an eight-day turnaround would be about the ideal time frame to allow players to recover from the rigours of the first match whilst keeping the adrenalin and focus pumping into the second game.

But that logic went out the window after Scotland’s catastrophic start to the tournament last Sunday, with the long wait to start the process of putting things right against Samoa tomorrow passing at an unbearably slow rate. The frustration is exacerbated by the enclosed nature of the World Cup, which means the team have been holed up at the ANA Crown Plaza hotel in Kobe with nowhere to hide as the other teams get on with their campaigns, and a contractual obligation to wheel a handful of players out each day to try to put a new spin on an old and depressing story. It has been demoralising stuff.

Scotland certainly needed a few days to mend their bruised egos as much as the battered bodies immediately after the Ireland game. Stuart McInally – who had missed the immediate post-match press conference with "severe cramp" – cut such a lonely and dejected figure at Monday’s press briefing that concerned journalists were still asking John Barclay how the tour captain was shaping up on Friday.

Generally, however, there was a perceptible mood change around the middle of the week, with second-row Grant Gilchrist leading the way when he spoke with heartfelt passion on Wednesday about "taking the bullets like men". Fellow senior players Greig Laidlaw and Barclay – along with a few less established players such as Chris Harris – followed suit.

It is impossible to say what is happening behind the closed doors of the team room. The SRU’s media team have done their level best to put up as big a wall as possible between the squad and the outside world. But you certainly get the impression that the players have had enough of reliving Sunday’s nightmare and really need to get back on the horse soon. Tomorrow’s match against Samoa cannot come soon enough.

It would take a cold heart to not to have any sympathy for the players. They are a group of decent human beings (perhaps too decent in the grizzled world of top-flight international rugby), and those who have suggested that what has happened is down to a lack of commitment or desire are well wide of the mark. However, this is a mess entirely of their own and their employers’ making.

On the field, they got their approach to the Ireland game psychologically and tactically wrong. The SRU’s passion for self-promotion and lack of self-awareness seeped into the team’s pre-tournament PR. They spent the summer working hard and then pronounced themselves the "fittest side in the world" who would play "the fastest brand of rugby". They seemed to forget that everyone else was putting in the hard yards as well.

Ireland sat back and let Scotland talk themselves into a corner. Nodding along politely and even throwing in a few complimentary tit-bits to further fuel their opponents’ hubris. Then, when the whistle went, Joe Schmidt’s side flew out the traps with a ferocity which clearly stunned Scotland.

It looked as if the possibility that they wouldn’t have it all their own way hadn’t occurred to Gregor Townsend’s team. They couldn’t/wouldn’t adapt – continued trying to get outside Ireland’s blitz defence but didn’t have the pace to do any damage when they did – and by the end they were lucky that the score-line flattered them.

The fall-out afterwards has been ferocious – and disproportionate. But if you are going to build-up people’s expectations to unrealistic levels then you have to be ready to accept the criticism when it all crashes down around your ankles. A couple of shocking PR gaffes from Murrayfield hasn’t helped take the sting out of the situation.

On Tuesday, when the wounds were still raw, the SRU announced as "breaking news" that a refurbishment of the conference and matchday suites at Murrayfield had been completed. This was no time for smug corporate grandstanding.

Worse still, on Wednesday, they announced that a new "independent commentator" had given his assessment of the game on the SRU website. This analysis by a former sports editor of a national newspaper was to the effect that it was really the fans’ own fault that they had been left disappointing because their expectations had been too high. That prompted a predictably incredulous reaction. It would be funny if it all didn’t bounce back on the already under pressure team.

Scotland will beat Samoa tomorrow. Partly because they are the better team, and partly because they really have to. But it is not going to be easy. They have only lost once in 11 matches against the Pacific Islanders, but in five of the last six meetings their winning margin was seven points or less, and they were beaten in the other game during that period by 10 points during the summer of 2013.

The impression is that senior players such as Gilchrist, Laidlaw and Russell (behind the jack-the-lad persona there are some pretty sharp rugby instincts) have had more of a say this week about how the team should approach the game. While the party line remains that the fastest brand of rugby in the world is "part of our DNA", a more pragmatic approach is likely to be adopted to getting the job done against a dangerous but generally less-structured opposition.

A victory won’t fully exorcise the demons of last Sunday but will be an important first step on the road to redemption.